Friday, November 13, 2015

a Friday alone

If I have accepted the fact that I travel mostly alone, at home, I rarely am without the company of either Ed or, these days Snowdrop.

Today, for the most part, I had neither.

Well, after breakfast. But that morning meal was rushed!

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And here's a curiosity: minutes later you will have found me running, really running from a downtown garage where I parked my car in the last years of my law school work. Where to? Actually, the law school.

I had been back to the law school only once since I packed up my office and retired nearly two years ago. And now today I was doing what I did so many mornings where I had an early lecture: running.

The good news is that I can still run that distance as fast as I did a few years back. Seven minutes, if all lights fall into place. The last leg of it uphill.

It was actually a weird return visit: I wasn't there for the law school part. This was merely the place some medical personnel were using for biometric screenings -- part of a wellness program in our state where if you filled out a questionnaire and subjected yourself to some basic screenings of the cholesterol, BMI, waist size etc. type, you could earn $150 from your insurance provider. That was , for me, an easy calculation. Several years ago, when I was trying to put a few more dollars into my travel pouch, I would have had to work for a whole weekend selling French creams at l'Occitane to earn that much cash. You want to record my vitals now? Sure! Send the check to my home address, thank you.

After my "appointment" (hence the run), I suddenly had a huge amount of time on my hands. Friday is always grocery shopping day, but typically I have to squeeze that into the morning hours. Not so today. I have no Snowdrop to visit. My day is strangely bare.

So I walked down Bascom Hill -- where I worked for a quarter of a century...

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... and I tried to get a handle on how I felt about it all. Time has passed. I think of my work more expansively than I did when I left it. As with raising kids, I see the good moments and, too, the missed opportunities. Do I wish I had done it differently? No, as my kind Polish friend told me just a few days ago -- then I wouldn't be me, would I?

The campus was empty, in the way that it gets in the middle of a class hour and especially on a Friday. I was fine with that. I wanted a quiet moment. I got a very quiet moment.

I then walked down State Street and I was really stunned how much this set of blocks, linking campus with the Capitol keeps changing. Stores come and go, new buildings go up. If anything made me feel like I was truly in a retirement bubble, this was it: the familiarity mixed with the unfamiliarity here.

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Well, it was a good walk anyway. The air was cool and the winds were still gusting, but the sun was out and I gave myself the luxury of popping into stores, trying on a sweater here or there...

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... thinking that it's good not to need that sweater. Putting it back, moving on...

And this was all really pleasant and unusual for me and the kind of thing I can do once every two years or so, because honestly, State Street isn't my turf anymore. I'm just revisiting an old haunt, much as I would revisit the neighborhood where I grew up in Poland.

After grocery shopping (which I stretched out to take up a ridiculously long time), I returned to the place that now does feel like it's my corner of the world -- the farmette. The late afternoon sun added warmth to the scene before me -- still dominated somewhat by the colors of the crab apples...

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I watched the robins pick at the apples -- red and gray birds against a red and gray tree, all framed by the blueness of the sky and the yellowing leaves of the willow...

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At the farmhouse, I put on the music that I've neglected for so long (trying to shake out of my head songs about sweet potatoes and clapping your hands) and made myself a pot of tea and sat down to write.

And then I read about the tragic events in Paris. Sigh...